Why Remote Work is Here to Stay
Before COVID, working from home one day a week seemed like a luxury. While software engineers mostly spent their days coding at their desks, they were still expected to be physically in the office with their co-workers five days a week.
Having one remote day a week wasn't unheard of but it certainly wasn't expected. And even when it was allowed, not everyone participated. Some feared missing out on "water cooler" discussions or getting ahead of the competition.
Fast forward to 2023 and employers are fighting tooth and nail to get people back to the office. They are offering incentives including awesome work place amenities, social events, and even different pay scales for those willing to return.
The problem is software engineers have gotten too used to remote life. We appreciate the flexibility too much and are even willing to take pay cuts to retain it. While many of the big players are pushing the hybrid model (at least 3 days a week in office), many full remote opportunities can still be found.
With 2024 approaching, many questions are being asked surrounding the continued viability of full remote work. Debates surrounding productivity, work/life balance, and mental health have many wondering whether remote life is good for us.
So where do we go from here?
As a software engineer with over 15+ years experience, I've seen both sides of the coin. While I've been full remote now for over 3 years, I've still spent the majority of my career in offices. I know the good and the bad, especially as it relates to software engineers and I have strong opinions on the subject.
So lets explore some of the hot questions being asked today surrounding remote work and it's continued viability...
Is Remote Work Going Away?
Remote work is here to stay.
Why? Because companies compete aggressively for talent in the world of tech. It's hard to find good software engineers even in a tight labor market like we are experiencing today.
To both attract and retain talent, companies have to pull out all the stops. This includes catering to the work/like balance demands of the modern day employee.
You may see headlines surrounding back to office requirements. And while it's true that bigger fish like Amazon have implemented return to office mandates, these companies haven't yet seen the results of their actions.
These bigger companies may be pushing the "hybrid" narrative, but smaller employers aren't having it. Plenty of companies continue to hire for full remote roles and employees who want that option in tech will have no problem finding it.
Don't get me wrong. Some engineers love being in office and will be happy to return. But the ones that don't aren't going to be forced to return either.
What is the future of remote work?
Many companies are adopting a hybrid model. This doesn't mean the future of remote work is limited to a hybrid model.
COVID showed us that people can get work done from anywhere. Advancements in video conferencing technology make it hard to hide even if we are fully remote. If employers are concerned about productivity, then I'd argue that's on management at this point. There's no reason why a resource can't be full remote and still fully dialed in.
So, as to the future of remote work, it will continue to exist in all forms. Flexibility will be respected.
If your a tech worker, you'll find opportunities regardless of your remote work preferences.
Are people happier with remote jobs?
For people that WANT remote jobs, I've found they are happier when they have their way. It certainly hasn't seemed like a "be careful what you wish for" situation where people regret their decision to work 100% from home.
I myself am a pretty social person. Although I sometimes miss the random interactions and camaraderie that resulted from in person jobs, I'm perfectly happy working 5 days a week at my house. This is largely because I never understood why software engineers needed to come into an office in the first place.
If we are doing what we're intended to professionally, then it's understood we'll be working behind a keyboard most the day. If we aren't doing that then it's a different story altogether.
There's nothing wrong with wanting to go into an office if your a software engineer. I would just argue that there's nothing from a productivity standpoint holding you back at home. People that want to go into offices want friends, maybe even romances. They aren't dying to get more work done in person. They're dying for distractions at work instead of distractions at home.
Why is remote work dying?
It's not. Some just want you to think it is :)
Whether it's your mom worrying about you making friends or a mayor wanting to save down town, there's plenty of noise surrounding the death of remote work.
The problem is it's just not true. Even when mass layoffs were experienced in tech following COVID, I kept my remote job and still have it today. Even when certain companies announced return to office mandates, others posted full time remote positions.
Remote work is here to stay. If you like working in an office then you can still do that. If you like working from home then you can still do that. This will be the case for decades to come. COVID showed us we can get work done and be productive from anywhere. While some enjoy the social aspects of work, others will continue to prioritize flexibility.
And there will always be a company to accomodate...